Notre Dame ended 2012 undefeated. The first five months of 2013 have been hapless. Alabama defrocked the Irish in the BCS title game. Brian Kelly flirted with the NFL. Manti Te’o had a fake dead girlfriend revealed. Five-star defensive tackle commit Eddie Vanderdoes had second thoughts. Now, starting quarterback Everett Golson must sit out 2013, at least. The Notre Dame offseason has been rough and notable, but the effect may be overstated.
Losing Golson is a blow. He showed potential in flashes last season. He could have taken the leap in 2013. What was stable becomes unstable. That said, Golson was not that much of a force, as a freshman, in 2012. He was the nation’s 64th ranked passer. Good defenses neutralized him. Notre Dame spent much of the season operating the offense with a firm grip on the handbrake. The Irish can’t replace what could have been. They can definitely replace (and expand on) what was in 2012.
Few teams are better placed to lose their starting quarterback. Notre Dame has two seniors behind Golson. Tommy Rees is Tommy Rees, but he also has a 14-4 record in 18 career starts. Andrew Hendrix has not stepped forward, but has a skill set and some experience. Brian Kelly could also burn Malik Zaire’s redshirt. The four-star freshman from Ohio, with a similar dual threat build to Golson, may have a similar ceiling. The present controversy is similar to last year’s, before they went 12-0.
Notre Dame may not have an explosive offense in 2013. They weren’t expected to with Golson. The Irish have no proven depth at tailback with Reddick and Wood departing. They lost Tyler Eifert. They don’t appear to have a Michael Floyd type in tow. As in 2012, they will have to win with their defense, which should again be formidable (against teams not Alabama). Coordinator Bob Diaco comes back. So do eight starters, including possible first rounders Nix and Tuitt on the defensive line.
Regression is probable for the Irish. It would have been without the last five months’ misfortune. Notre Dame can withstand average to above average quarterback play. Bigger concerns may be upperclassmen departures and playing Michigan and Stanford on the road.
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